A friend announces she has cancer on Facebook but I resist the urge to message her back. Instead we meet for lunch and here’s what I learned
1. Facebook posts, WhatsApp messages and happy, clappy emojis are nice and sweet but can be seen as inauthentic and too convenient. There’s nothing like lunch to say you care enough to offer your time and listening ear
2. Just because they choose to meet you on a good day doesn’t mean all is well. Never say, “But you don’t look sick!” It trivialises their struggle and denies the existence of their illness.
3. Putting up a strong front is not just about courage but necessity. They are not just cancer patients but spouses, parents and children to others too.
4. They won’t ask for help because they are overly considerate. But when they do the love and support is overwhelming and goes a long way. Offer to help, anyway,
5. Staying strong is exhausting and incredibly lonely. Behind every Facebook post on seizing the day is another day battling uncertainty, fear and pain, which you won’t get to see.
6. Be happy for them they have a select group of friends to turn to on a bad day. Yes, even if you are not part of that group.
7. Resist their offer to talk about your struggles. Today is not about you but them.